Why You Don't Need Someone's Permission to Take Your Company Global
I have always loved travel. It’s just who I am. From 2014-2016, I was lucky enough to work a corporate gig that allowed me to constantly travel. Over the two year period, I was in over 30 countries, and while the burnout was #real, I knew that no matter where I went after that job, travel would have to be a part of my career in at least some capacity.
Cue the birth of SimplyBe. Agency and I knew that I wanted to build a global business. But how could I take a solopreneurship-turned-small business in Wicker Park to the ends of the earth? It hasn’t been a simple or straightforward journey, but it’s been a priority of mine that has guided me to all the right places at the right time and has made me believe, more than ever, that travel has the power to transform us AND our companies...no matter the size.
Here are 5 steps to taking YOUR company global, no matter the size:
1. Find Your Tribe
As I first began building the global part of my brand, I connected with like-minded people. Business owners and entrepreneurs with a passion for travel, learning, and growth. The world is a big place, and attempting to spread your message around it, alone, is a practically impossible feat. I teamed up with partners, like the incredible Kristin Balter to develop global mastermind retreats and found international communities in the likes of A-Fest and MindValley University. Through these connections I was able to create international experiences for both myself and my company, spreading SimplyBe.’s services all around the world and establishing partnerships that promise continued travel. When you surround yourself with those who view travel through the same, transformative lens, it only begets more travel. So find fellow global citizens who are looking to leave their mark on the world while constantly learning from any culture they can, and work with them to develop your business.
2. Adopt the “Suitcase Mindset”
When it comes to actually designing your business model, make sure that your product is location-independent. When I was building SimplyBe., I knew that live experiences were something I was passionate about creating. My first workshop that I taught in real-time was at Heineken’s corporate office in New York. When I created my branding workshop for them, I didn’t view it as a one-time presentation. I built it to be a template that I could put in “a suitcase” and take anywhere. And I have. I’ve used the same presentation at Heineken's office in Atlanta, at PROjECT Interiors, and at public workshops. It’s been instrumental in establishing my business outside of Chicago. Making projects accessible through presentation and language for national or international clients is key to tapping into new markets. Sell your services or products in a way that makes it easy, effortless, and logical to use from anywhere in the world.
3. Ditch the Imposter Syndrome
In addition to this, don’t wait for the opportunity to go global to come to you; seek it out. My good friend Lynne, who is an epic traveler always uses the term: spin the globe. Meaning, turn the globe and go to wherever your finger lands on. Go anywhere that your path leads you and don’t be afraid to go to unfamiliar places and chase exciting opportunities. I did exactly this when I saw the opportunity to go to Estonia with my team for MindValley University. I took a chance and DM’d the founder on Facebook, thinking nothing of it. He accepted my request to speak, leading to perhaps the most transformative 10 days, for both me and SimplyBe., in all of 2018. I went where my path led me (to a country I had barely heard of before) and grew my business massively on the international scale.
4. Use Social Media as a Search Engine
In this same vein, view social media as more than just a place to connect (although it’s clearly good for that). Treat it as a search engine. Figure out what hashtags your audience is looking for on Instagram, what keywords they’re typing in on Pinterest, and use that to promote your events. Over the past year, I’ve co-hosted Masterminds in both Bali and India. For both events, I promoted locally, invested in ads and created buzz on social through targeted hashtagging that reached people who were interested in attending. To tap into a global market, you need to be strategic, but that doesn’t mean you need to cut out the fun. Using social media is a great way to blend the two, allowing your business’s personality to shine while optimizing your content.
5: Your Laptop is Your Office.
Once you’ve reached the right audience, focus on building a community. A lot of businesses get lost in this stage because time differences and locational distance can feel hard to navigate. Thankfully, we live in the age of Zoom, Skype, and Whatsapp, so contacting people from anywhere in the world is easier than ever. Find time in your schedule to reach out to your international connections during your morning and their evening or vice versa to keep your relationships green. The only way to sustain global growth is by treating your international relationships like local ones. This goes not only for clients, but also for mentors, peers, and even friends. You don’t need to have global offices to be a global business. You just need to stay connected and always willing to grow.
Creating a global company on my own terms has been incredibly rewarding and inspiring. It has pushed me to look at my company as well as my place in this world in new ways. It has made me a more agile and resourceful businesswoman and has introduced me to people and places that have changed my life forever. I was only able to achieve this because I took matters into my own hands.
And you can, too.